Chelsea Wolfe and Beth Orton had a baby
When I first found Sondra Sun-Odeon, she was creating elegant acoustic ballads. She was hanging out in the gentle hippy world with her soft voice caressing the acoustic guitar. ‘Desyre’ rips that open and Sondra flips the table. This is primarily a dark gothic rock album peppered with some beautiful ballads. The contrast is startling but Sondra Sun-Odeon smashes it.
With the title track, Sondra slams down an acoustic guitar and heavy drums for a track Emma Ruth Rundle would be proud of. Her voice reminds me of Beth Orton at times but then sounds eerily similar when some of the later tracks come to force. ‘Desyre’ is a real statement of intent though as time and again Sondra cranks out dark anthems.
The album opens with ‘Vision’ and it feels like a transitional track from her past music to the current sound. The acoustic side is there but the bubbling of electricity flows throughout it before it launches into ‘Desyre’. It lets ‘Roses in the Snow’ that follows transition into a post-rock track. The guitars are a wall of sound and Sun-Odeon breaks out of her softer voice to wails and sirens. This, paired with the epic 8 minute ‘Drowning Man – An Invocation for the Demise of Patriarchy’, are the two post-rock epics that really remind me of Chelsea Wolfe. It has the same energy, vibe, ferocity and force.
Elsewhere Sondra brings in American desert swagger to her style. In the superb track ‘Hit’, the guitar twang is timed with a chant shout and drum smash and you can feel your pulse racing. It isn’t a fast-paced track but it’s cinematic and poised. The two ballads on the album are also beautifully put together. ‘Oaks’ is a gentle folksy throwback to her debut album ‘Aetherea’. ‘Moved By Joy’ instead takes the album into a completely different sound by centring on sweeping keyboards and gentle electric guitar that sounds harp-like at times. It is on these ballad tracks where Sondra sounds really like Beth Orton and that’s no bad thing at all.
Whilst I enjoyed ‘Aetherea’, this follow up album is a real step forward for Sondra Sun-Odeon. The breadth and depth of the rock here is expansive and she is able to captivate you across all the different disciplines. A lot of musicians went softer in 2019 with their sound and I am so glad that Sondra went in hard. Here we have a new addition to the dark rock pantheon of excellent singer/songwriters.
Recommended track: Hit
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